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Meetings Calendar 2006
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The Council Presidency

A fresh start for Europe!

From 1 January 2006, Austria assumes the role of Presidency of the Council of the European Union. For the next six months, the members of Austria's Federal Government will chair the meetings of the European Council and endeavour to serve the Community well.

Our Presidency will have to address a number of major issues crucial to the future of the European Union. The Financial Perspective 2007-2013 adopted by the 25 Heads of State and Government in December 2005 must now also gain the consent of the European Parliament and the Commission. Furthermore, the period of reflection on the future of Europe is to be evaluated during these six months in order to find a way forward on the European Constitutional Treaty. Measures to promote growth, jobs, research and technological development as well as questions of enhanced security cooperation also make for a busy agenda.

Austria wishes to use its Presidency above all to bring Europe closer again to its people and to boost confidence in the European project. Europe should serve and protect us. That is why it is particularly important to me that we keep the idea of a shared, multi-faceted European Continent alive and support it in practical ways. Let us give Europe a fresh start!


Wolfgang Schüssel
Federal Chancellor

 

Austria has the Presidency of the Council of the EU for the second time. In consultation with our European partners, we will tackle in particular the issues that concern citizens in Austria and the rest of Europe: jobs and growth, securing and developing the European social model and boosting people’s confidence in the European project. Europe should be a strong, reliable partner in the world.

The agreement on the EU budget was a major step. I am particularly pleased that additional resources will now be available over the next seven years for the key areas of research and development, for Austria’s farmers and rural development, and for people living in the border regions. This agreement must now be put into practice during our Presidency. We will work closely with the European Parliament to this end.

In the field of external relations, we will devote particular attention to our immediate neighbourhood as well as to global issues. Our shared goal is to build a common area of peace, security and prosperity with our neighbours in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.

Increased stability and security in the Western Balkans is in Austria’s and Europe’s interest. We are doing everything in our power to bring the countries in this region closer to the European Union and to support them on their path to reform. We do not want an area of insecurity and instability between Italy and Greece.

Negotiating skill, willingness to build consensus and partnership are the necessary ingredients to take forward these issues and projects. And we want to work together to inject Europe with new vitality. Our common, long-term goal must be to make Europe more comprehensible, more in keeping with the times and more tangible to our citizens.

With my professional team by my side, I have prepared thoroughly for this Presidency and look forward with enthusiasm and confidence to the great challenges that await us in the coming six months.


Ursula Plassnik
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs

 

Date: 28.03.2006